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The Three Evergreen Challenges of Sustainable Investing

By Katie Grace Deane

Last week, USSIF released its most recent Trends report, identifying a $1.5 trillion increase since 2014 in assets invested by institutions taking environment, social and governance factors into account in their investment decision-making. Over the past two years, the industry has seen an increase in media coverage, and a spate of new products and new firms adopting the labels of responsible, sustainable, impact and related terms that point to a set of related practices.

Over the past year and a half, the IRI collaborated with the Institute for Sustainable Investing to investigate this new state of affairs, and understand how U.S. asset managers viewed the future growth of sustainable investing, which were defined as investments seeking market rate return alongside social and/or environmental impact. The report Sustainable Signals: The Asset Manager Perspective highlights a perception by asset managers that the field is at an inflection point, with general excitement over existing and perceived future growth, and ongoing questions over both the nature of diverse and occasionally unclear client demand and what sustainable investing can credibly deliver.

Why and How Might Investors Respond to Economic Inequality?

By Erin Shackelford

Why and How Might Investors Respond to Economic Inequality?Worrisome levels of economic inequality have received growing attention in recent years from a variety of sources and perspectives.  Prominently, the United Nations Development Programme has included “Reduced Inequalities” as one of seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (aka the SDGs), raising the profile of inequality as a pressing global issue.  The very real impacts of inequality on people and society, and, in turn, on growth and political stability, are increasingly hard to ignore.  And, while government action is certainly a key part of reducing economic inequality, private sector investment is implicated, as well. 

Calls to action like the UN’s SDGs provide an important opportunity for investors to examine how risks related to high levels of economic inequality may be embedded in their portfolio, and what they might do about it.

Drawing on recent research, a new discussion paper by IRI Director David Wood, written for the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, aims to aid investors as they seek to understand and address economic inequality.  With a summary of current thinking and questions to spark discussion, “Why and How Might Investors Respond to Economic Inequality” is a tool specifically written to prompt investors to think about their possible responses to this emergent risk, and the role their own investments may play in promoting, or mitigating, economic inequality. 

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